First electric car from CODA rolls off assembly line

March 12, 2012 8:15:08 PM PDT
On Monday, the first electric car from a company many people have never heard of rolled off the assembly line in Benicia. ABC7 looks into what is unusual about the CODA electric car and what's not.

Plugging in the car is about as much noise as you'll ever hear out of this all-electric car from a California company called CODA. When you turn the key, the silence is deafening. However, after its launch was delayed for more than two years, the first five-passenger sedan to finally roll off CODA's new assembly line in Benicia was met with thunderous applause.

"This is just the beginning. Our founding mission at CODA is to put an electric car in every garage in the world," said Mac Heller, the CODA executive chairman.

At about $27,000 after government rebates, the new CODA directly competes with the Nissan Leaf. Coda's quick to point out this car has a longer range -- up to 125 miles, they say -- and its massive battery has a 10-year warranty, compared to Nissan's eight.

Yet, perhaps the biggest difference is what you won't notice. Aside from the logo, you might mistake this for any other five-passenger sedan. It's an electric car that doesn't cry out for attention.

Aside from having a knob in place of a gear shift, the inside of the CODA sedan really looks like any other car. It even uses a traditional metal key to start. And its designers say that familiar feel is really the whole idea.

"We have a standard car. This is not a fancy vehicle, it's not a sideshow vehicle, it's a very good looking modern sedan," said Thomas Hausch, the CODA sales and marketing vice president.

A Silicon Valley dealership wasted no time ordering two dozen codas and already has buyers lined up.

"Just like you and I, they're regular people that are environmental conscious, really probably want to be in the HOV lane, and they're not a lot of third cars, they're really just people who want to have this as their everyday car," said Shaun Del Grande, a CODA dealership president.

CODA's been criticized for building most of the car's parts in China, then assembling them in Benicia. But Benicia's mayor, Elizabeth Patterson, is not complaining about the 25 jobs they've created here.

"In closing, let the good times roll," said Patterson.


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